In a high-profile event in Paris on Friday, Indian tennis ace Mahesh Bhupathi launched a one-of-a-kind tennis league, along with German tennis legend Boris Becker and American Justin Gimelstob.
The star-studded league will be called the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) and is set to kick-start in December 2014. Bhupathi’s initiative received strong backing from tennis greats Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
According to reports, the inaugural season will consist of six teams from six cities in Asia, and Bhupathi hopes to add on to the number of teams in the coming years. A draft where each team can auction about six to ten players will take place in January at Melbourne, just before the Australian Open.
The total salaries would cost each team between $4 and $10 million with the top players expected to earn in excess of $1 million. There will be five categories of players, each with their own base price. Players will be slotted on the basis of ranking, popularity and potential.
Bhupati said: “We’ve signed multiple players across all categories and expect to have over 100 players signed and available on the day of the draft for owners to pick from.”
Apart from Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, Bhupathi has signed big names like Andy Murray, big-serving Czech Tomas Berdych, athletic Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Serb Janko Tipsarevic.
Unfortunately, Roger Federer fans will not be able to see their idol in the inaugural year. Bhupathi said, “Roger won’t be participating in the inaugural year.”
Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, Li Na, Caroline Wozniacki and Sam Stosur have reportedly been signed among the women.
Highlights of the IPTL:
1. Six teams from six Asian cities to compete in franchise-based league
2. Six to ten players will be picked in an auction in January with total salaries in the range of $4 to $10 million
3. Top tennis stars like Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, Janko Tipsarevic, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Li Na, Caroline Wozniacki and Sam Stosur have confirmed their availability. Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Pat Rafter are expected to be some of the senior stars.
4. Bangalore, Kolkata, Osaka, Tokyo, Beijing, Singapore, Manila, Hong Kong, Dubai and Doha are cities in the running for the league.